“Treat others the way you want to be treated. We heard this mantra over and over again as little kids, but what we didn’t realize is that we were being taught empathy,” notes Syracuse University biology and nutrition science double major, Robert Swanda. Along with classmates Fareya Zubair and Andrew Sussman, Swanda has created Empathy Matters, a new program through Syracuse University’s Office of Engagement that is currently looking for committed volunteers.

Empathy Matters needs you!

Focused on second-grade students, Syracuse University college students, through playful activities such as puppy therapy, role reversal, and team building, will mentor elementary school-aged children about the basics of empathy. The program will take place at H.W. Smith Elementary School on Tuesdays and Fridays from 1:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m. Transportation will be provided to the school and back courtesy the Mary Ann Shaw Center for Public and Community Service and the Schine Student Center. Please email engagesu@syr.edu with your name and contact information if you are interested.

“Empathy is defined as the ability to put oneself into the mental shoes of another person in order to understand his or her emotions and feelings. In a recent study conducted by a Harvard University psychologist, 80 percent of parents were not teaching their children about empathy. The children began focusing more on themselves, and could not understand why they were hurting other’s feelings. With young students growing up in a society dominated more by technology and less by personal connections, it is crucial to have an understanding of another’s emotions and to show compassion. Empathy is the foundation for success in relationships, school, and the workplace. To create the future leaders of America who will inspire and empower those around them, we must instill empathy in our younger generations,” says Swanda.